Posts Tagged ‘Eastern District of Texas’

April 20 roundup

False Claims Act jumps the guardrails in E.D. Tex.

A $680 million award in the plaintiff-friendly Eastern District of Texas illustrates some of the problems with the federal False Claims Act, the whistleblower law enabling bounty-hunting suits against government vendors and contractors [Ilya Shapiro, earlier here, here, and here]:

Trinity contends — and the alleged federal-agency victim agrees! — that the re-designed device, which passed all diagnostic tests, met all the safety criteria required by the FHWA, and therefore that the omission of the redesign failed to qualify as the sort of “false statement” required for liability under the FCA. Despite a warning from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit regarding the weakness of the FCA claims, a trial court in the eastern district of Texas—known for being a “judicial hellhole”—moved the case forward, to an eventual jury verdict for Harman.

The jury found Trinity liable for more than $680 million in damages, which is the largest damage award in FCA history. Out of the millions in damages and penalties, the court awarded Harman a 30% share of the recovery, plus almost $19 million in attorneys’ fees and expenses.

Cato has submitted a Fifth Circuit amicus brief “arguing that the jury’s finding of liability and damages were unsustainable under the law.”

Patent litigation: “Could the Eastern District of Texas’s Reign Come to an End?”

Federal law has allowed patent suits to be filed wherever a defendant is subject to personal jurisdiction, and as a result something like 40 percent of suits are filed in the rural Eastern District of Texas, known for its pro-plaintiff rulings and procedures. Now, in a Federal Circuit appellate case called In re: TC Heartland, LLC, a defendant is asking for a case to be transferred (in this case not from E.D. Tex., but from D. Del.) to the southern district of Indiana, where it is headquartered, citing what it says are the implications of a 2011 Congressional enactment, the Federal Court Jurisdiction and Venue Clarification Act. Others say that it is up to Congress to restrict forum-shopping by clear instruction should it choose to do so, and that it did not do so in the 2011 law. [Mintz Levin] More: WLF.

November 25 roundup

  • Mississippi federal indictments in Mikal Watts BP case include fraud charges (arising from multiple wire transfers) against man who a decade ago, when pastor of a Hammond, La. church, pleaded guilty to fraud charges arising from fen-phen client recruitment [Robin Fitzgerald, Biloxi Sun-Herald]
  • Critique of Madison Fund project proposed by Charles Murray in new book By the People: Rebuilding Liberty Without Permission, I get a mention [Philip Wallach, New Rambler Review, earlier on book]
  • “So You Had Sex With Charlie Sheen and Want to Sue: 5 Legal Hurdles” [Eric Turkewitz, Hollywood Reporter]
  • “[Online form provider] LegalZoom Fought the North Carolina Bar on claims of UPL and Won” [Ben Barton, BNA]
  • After prison escape manhunt: “‘Psychic’ Sues Governor Of New York For Reward Money” [Bob Dorigo Jones]
  • Suit challenges D.C.’s methods for seizing and disposing of houses over very small tax liens [Christina Martin and Todd Gaziano (Pacific Legal Foundation, which filed an amicus brief), Washington Post, earlier on business of tax liens here and here]
  • Change in patent venue rules sought: “EFF asks appeals court to ‘shut down the Eastern District of Texas'” [Joe Mullin, ArsTechnica, more on E.D. Tex.]

Rating states on legal climates

“West Virginia courts have a well-deserved reputation for favoring plaintiffs, but the state’s Supreme Court may have gone too far this year when it said drug addicts who broke the law to obtain narcotics could sue the doctors and pharmacies who supposedly fed their addiction.” Rulings like that, writes Daniel Fisher, are one reason West Virginia perennially ranks at the bottom in the U.S. Chamber’s ranking of state legal climates, and did again this year. Louisiana, Illinois, and California are other cellar-dwellers, while Alabama and Texas, despite extensive reforms and the success of business-oriented candidates in many judicial races, also languish in the lower ranks with continuing problems such as the litigation atmosphere of east Texas [Lou Ann Anderson/Watchdog Arena] More: Bob Dorigo Jones. Related, from ALEC: State Lawsuit Reform.

Eastern District of Texas bar group hires lobbyist

Don’t take away our lucrative shopping franchise! “Judges and lawyers from the Eastern District of Texas are battling back at legislation partially aimed at curtailing the inordinate number of patent cases argued in the region. The district’s bar association this week hired its first lobbyist, Gaylord Hughey, who will focus on ‘patent venue issues.'” [The Hill; more on the Eastern District]

Eastern District of Texas branches out

Marshall, Texas, famed as patent plaintiffs’ forum of choice, returns a $663 million False Claims Act verdict against Trinity Industries in guardrail supply case [Insurance Journal; earlier on the unique qualities of the Eastern District of Texas, earlier on the Trinity litigation here and here]

And more Marshall fun: Texas patent holding company files 49 lawsuits in a week, isn’t listed on own office building’s directory [Legal NewsLine]

Intellectual property roundup

  • “Our mangled patent system,” Cato podcast [with Eli Dourado of the Mercatus Center] Critique of federal circuit [Dourado at Cato Unbound]
  • Since SCOTUS’s June decision in Alice v. CLS Bank, many courts have struck down software patents as too-abstract [Timothy Lee, Vox]
  • Iqbal-Twombly principles as remedy for patent trollery? [Daniel Fisher]
  • ISP resists mass copyright enforcement enterprise’s demand for customer list [DSL Reports]
  • Win for Personal Audio in E.D. Tex.: “Jury finds CBS infringes podcasting patent, awards $1.3 million” [ArsTechnica]
  • “Premier League Uses Copyright To Pull Down YouTube Video Of Professor Advocating For Stronger Copyright For Premier League” [Mike Masnick, Techdirt]
  • A new leaf? “Silicon Valley’s Most Hated Patent Troll Stops Suing and Starts Making” [Business Week]

September 2 roundup

  • Police have traced the crime wave to a single micro-neighborhood in the California capital [Sacramento Bee]
  • “Adam Carolla Settles with the Patent Trolls” [Daniel Nazer/EFF, Reason, related eight days earlier and previously] eBay takes on Landmark in the E.D. of Texas [Popehat]
  • Frank Furedi on law and the decline in childrens’ freedom to roam [U.K. Independent]
  • On “ban the box” laws re: asking about job applicants’ criminal records, it’s sued if you do, sued if you don’t [Coyote]
  • Fake law firm websites in U.K. sometimes parasitize the real ones [Martha Neil, ABA Journal]
  • What C. Steven Bradford of the blog Business Law Prof reads to keep up (and thanks for including us on list);
  • As applications to renounce U.S. citizenship mount, many related to FATCA, our government hikes fee for doing so by 422% [Robert Wood, Forbes]